Rural Tennessee: Chasing the Cumberland Curves

Text: Luke Swab • Photography: Luke Swab

The Ducati Scrambler. I can’t think of a better bike for Cameron on this tour. I wanted a touring partner for the trip that I was sketching out to explore a small portion of the Cumberland Plateau. The route was going to be only 308 miles by Google’s math (if we behaved), but I wanted to take three slow days to do it in order to concentrate on enjoying the breathtaking scenery and shooting the best photos I could.

With that in mind, I knew my friend Cameron would be a great riding partner. He is a professional videographer just getting into motorcycling, and I knew he would love stopping every five minutes to shoot video while I did my photo thing. Together we would be the perfect team, motivating each other to do our best. However, with every good story setup there are challenges to overcome, and a few of them were made obvious when I called Cameron in the spring, months before our departure date.

“Cam, do you want to do a tour with me in September?” I ask.

“Totally, I would love to.” 

“What’s the current state of your 1976 Honda CB400F?”

“It’s currently in my living room with the carburetors on the kitchen counter,” he says.

“Will it run by September?” 

“I think I can get it running by then.”

“Do you have a motorcycle license?” 

“I can by September.” 

Fast-forward to September. The bike is still in the living room and his driver’s license is still missing the motorcycle endorsement. Not that he is lazy, but bringing a motorcycle back to life is very hard and this was his first attempt at doing so. With a few days before the tour starts, it’s time to scramble, and that’s just what he does. Two days before our departure I get a call. “Luke, I just rode a motorcycle for the first time in three years, and I just got my motorcycle endorsement too. My neighbor is letting me borrow his motorcycle, so I’m ready!”

“Awesome, so what bike did you get?” 

“A Ducati Scrambler.”

“That’s fantastic, you lucky dog—and pretty fitting for a last-minute bike. Let’s do this!” 

To Cherokee and Hemlock Falls

It’s departure time, 10:00 a.m., from Chattanooga, our hometown, and Cameron still doesn’t have a helmet. But that’s okay, because he has money and Speed Deluxe opens at 10. Thirty minutes later Cameron has a helmet, boots, and riding jacket. He meets me at my house on a shiny Ducati Scrambler. I attach some extra Wolfman saddlebags I have to his bike and we stuff the rest of our gear into the panniers of my Suzuki V-Strom 650. We’re off by noon and travel half an hour west to Cloudland Canyon State Park, at the top of Lookout Mountain in Georgia. 

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the January/February 2018 back issue.